Iran’s Protests and Economic Realities

The Council on Foreign Relation’s Interview with Suzanne Maloney can be found here.

This summary of an Interview with Suzanne Maloney from the Brookings Institution touches on the issues surrounding the recent protests in the Middle East. Similar to the article posted by Marie, this interview raises questions about a spread of the Arab Spring to the borders of Iran, only two years after the Green Movement was not successful.

Given the sanctions placed against Iran at a given time, mainly surrounding the nuclear ambitions of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, questions about the stability of the regime have surfaced. Threats of a similar uprising as seen during the Arab Spring. Maloney points out that this is not the case in Iran for a number of reasons. Her arguments are as follows: the military’s ability to repress the public and its allegiance to the regime, the blocking of the public’s access to technology and even the opposition leaders’ loyalty to the idea of preserving an Islamic Republic. Another major point is the amount of public sector jobs and the reliance on them for supporting ones livelihood. As she points out, “When your job comes from the state, it’s much more difficult to go out to the streets because you risk losing your livelihood as well as endangering your own safety. In Egypt this was not the case, as well as the military siding with the protestors.

While sanctions against Iran are intended to weaken the regime economically, Maloney states that these sanctions benefit some parties. For instance, the Revolutionary Guard has taken a role in sectors where international firms have left a vacuum. This role has made the Guard an important political power. Sanctions have also driven Iran towards the global East, using China as an exporter with results all over the spectrum. It has become clear that this cannot be a long-term solution but one that will suffice at this time.

Maloney states that though there are economic issues surrounding the regime, these factors will not drive people into the streets. As mentioned above, the amount of public sector jobs, oppressive ability of the military and blocking of technology will keep the population at bay for some time. A uprising of citizens will not be seen, says Maloney, but rather a slow transition and regime change over time.


– Martin


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